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Young Offenders: Criminals or Victims?

Young offenders are thought to have somewhat different reasons for committing a crime than adults. Since young offenders’ crime is based on severity in relation to their age, the punishment and treatment must be set accordingly. A film titled Young Kids, Hard Time looks at several problems that arise when incarcerating younger population. Some of them include the detrimental and negatively influential environment the person becomes exposed to. It is clear that youth must be treated much differently from adult offenders, socialization and treatment must be on a higher level, so that there is a chance of rehabilitation.

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When looking at young offenders, there are several things that draw a line in the treatment and assessment of the charges. The primary has to deal with the model and behavior that is exhibited and types of conditions present. There is a noticeable difference between habitual aggression and a first or second charge offence. In the treatment process, those who are engaged in habitual offending have a greater chance to come in contact with services that provide some form of treatment. Some of the important applications and approaches in the treatment of young offenders is the way an individual processes the information, how they react emotionally, their ability to control or regulate own behavior, changes in the development and motivation for behavior, as well as prevention in the relapses. It is stressed that there must be a focus on the antisocial behavior and ability to manage such behavior.

Placing young offenders with older inmates only teaches youth on how to break the law even more because the society has turned away from them, and they feel emotionally unstable to find confidence and belief in the self. In the video, it is emphasized that in the treatment process, emotions and future outbreaks are incorporated into the process of rehabilitation. The maintenance of behavior has a lot to do with the way someone processes the social information and how the behavior develops further. Human behavior, enrooted in every person, has been one of the focuses in the application of treatment. A person is taught to look at the social situation and de-code the stimuli by finding a proper response.

One of the key factors to consider is the development of the offender and what vulnerable sides they had during the formation of their character and attitude. In many instances, individuals who exhibit such behavior have themselves been victims of similar circumstances. The film rightfully mentions that an attachment that an individual has and the ability to cope with the environment, play a role in how a person will perceive the world outside their unique and skewed point of view. Often, problems relating to parenting and low quality of care, as well as inability to trust and disclose feelings at a needed time, will lead to a person becoming conserved in the self. The transition from a younger age into adulthood is a sensitive time when an individual develops “scripts”. In case there is a lack in social skills and management of the environment, a person becomes closed in and creates own criteria for proper behavior in a society. As such, attachments, guidance and socialization will help the treatment and rehabilitation.

It is critical that young offenders are given a chance because the problems they cause to themselves and society originate from the pain they felt at a younger age, so inflicting more stress would not help.

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